The Horn Book, starred review: "In its early pages, this quiet and contemplative picture-book biography sets up artist-architect Maya Lin’s fascination with spaces, natural and human-made, and their dynamic relationship with phenomena such as light.
The daughter of two Chinese-immigrant artists, a potter and a poet who 'never told Maya what to be or how to think,' Maya honed both her creativity and her intellect as a child. She went on to study architecture, a fusion of 'art, science, and math,' in college.
During her senior year at Yale, Maya entered a national contest to design the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, inspired by its guideline that the design must blend with the park setting. That a twenty-one-year-old novice beat out 1,420 other candidates, many of them famous architects, is intrinsically captivating fodder for a picture book, and Lin’s conviction about her own design in the face of public backlash is a built-in lesson in perseverance.
Appropriately, the book’s muted art has the fine lines, precision, and spatial astuteness of architectural drawings, and Phumiruk’s use of perspective is often striking. A wide double-page spread of the finished memorial, for instance, impressively captures its length as the wall of fallen solders’ names stretches diagonally toward the horizon.
Harvey’s text makes thoughtful, relatable connections between Lin’s work and the themes of her life; an author’s note adds supplementary details on the memorial’s design and touches on Lin’s later work."
Booklist: "Harvey portrays Lin’s early inspirations, from the forests and hills of her Ohio hometown and the progressive professions of her parents (her poet mother and clay-artist father, both Chinese immigrants, “never told Maya what to be or how to think”) to “the patterns of light and lines” in buildings at Yale and abroad. The book also emphasizes Lin’s artistic process, revealing the impetus—a reflective sliver in the earth’s surface—for what would be her first (of many) major works of art, and the mashed potato models, sketches, and backlash that accompanied it.
All the while, the clean lines in Phumiruk’s deliberately sparse, light-infused spreads and the placement of slender, pillarlike passages of text reinforce the breathtaking beauty of Lin’s sleek landmark. With a closing author’s note detailing Lin’s motivations for projects past and present, this is an artful resource for dreamers of all ages."
Artist-Architect of Light and Lines
by Jeanne Walker Harvey
Illustrated by Dow Phumiruk
Christy Ottaviano Books
Henry Holt and Co.
School Library Journal:
"So often do we admire and revere our national monuments without giving much thought to those who conceptualized and created them. This quietly inspiring title offers a biographical sketch of Maya Lin, the designer and architect behind Washington’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial,
[The book includes] information about her childhood interest in art and architecture, describes her college studies to strengthen these skills, and explains how as a senior in college she entered a contest and came to create an iconic and poignant monument. Also addressed are the controversies that came with Lin being selected for this project, the opposition she faced, and the way she bravely stood her ground and championed her design and the reasoning behind it.
The simple yet lyrical narrative flows effortlessly and will not overwhelm young readers. Lin’s story encourages the study of art, architecture, and engineering, making it an ideal choice to pair with STEAM-related activities. [The book] contextualizes the topic and presents an optimal opportunity to spark conversations on art and war. A fine pick for any public or school library collection."
Kirkus Reviews: “A concise biography introduces the Chinese-American artist and designer Maya Lin, best known for her architectural plan for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Lin, the child of a ceramic artist and a poet who "had fled China at a time when people were told…how to think," spends hours as a child playing in the nearby woods and building miniature towns of "paper and scraps."
Lin is in her last year of college when she enters a competition to design a proposed memorial to Vietnam War veterans, to be built on the National Mall. The design had to include the 58,000 names of those soldiers who had died in Vietnam. Lin's design was chosen in the anonymous competition but was not without controversy when her name was revealed...
Phumiruk's clean-lined, crisp illustrations, done in Photoshop, and light palette emphasize connections between Lin's concepts and the strong influences of nature on Lin's art...
Overall, a fine celebration of a renowned woman artist.”
Publishers Weekly: "Harvey (My Hands Sing the Blues) and debut illustrator Phumiruk recount the career of architect Maya Lin, using a textual and visual sparseness
Harvey introduces Lin as an observant child with an eye for form, structure, and the interplay of light. While in college, Lin entered the Vietnam Memorial design contest, which required including the names of almost 58,000 dead or missing soldiers: “These rules rang true to Maya. She knew the power of names.”
Harvey provides just enough biographical details to give a sense of Lin’s life, including touching on the initial backlash against her design for the memorial, while Phumiruk’s muted artwork, assembled digitally, makes good use of watercolor and corrugated textures to evoke the inspiration Lin drew from nature."